Best DS games?

So I’m faced with a bit of a quandary about Christmas this year.

Seems to me there are three choices:

  • XBox 360. I was a day one Xbox purchaser, but the 360 launch lineup doesn’t seem that groundbreaking to me. I will probably wait until Halo 3 and the concurrent anti-PS3 price drop.

  • Upgrade our weaker home PC so my wife and I could play World of Warcraft against each other. My wife thinks she might not get a big habit of it, so it might not be worth the cashola.

  • Get a Nintendo DS – which’ll be my first handheld system ever – and join the world of palm-size Nintendo fun!

You can tell I’m leaning towards the last option.

So, what are the best of the best DS games? I’ll only be getting three or four games for it at MOST, so keep them lists short :-) I’ll probably dig this topic up again closer to Christmastime, but I’m a sucker for anticipation, so let those opinions fly… I already know I’ll be down with Kirby’s Whatever and Advance Wars DS.


Advance Wars DS.

^Those. Also, Kirby Canvas Curse and Meteos.

Also the new Castlevania will be out by xmas, which is sure to be good.
Some good GBA titles out now or coming out by then as well, so you can always pick up some of them as well.


Zookeeper is a fun, simple puzzler. Uses a similar mechanic to bejeweled, but doesn’t end the game when there’s no more moves. I’ve sunk many hours into time attack.

Wario Ware uses the touch screen to good effect, try it especially if you haven’t played one before. Sorry about those long and unskippable cut scenes.

Super Mario 64 DS has some neat mini-games and stars that weren’t in the original game, but it suffers from either digital or touch-screen control.

Polarium is fun for a while and has the plus of not being possible on any other platform. But it doesn’t have a lot of staying power for me.

Feel the Magic is fun but shallow, a rental at best. It shows off the DS’s touch screen & microphone, but you may feel like a tool yelling into your DS.

Meteos is fun in short doses because those are the only doses you can get. Feels a bit shallow even with all of the unlockables.

Pac-Pix doesn’t look like much from the screenshots, but it’s a very engaging action puzzle game. Can be played through in a week or so, and the second “book” is just MOTS but harder.


Nanostray is a shooter with high difficulty and little variety. Blah.

The Urbz was a neat idea bogged down by the fiddly need to have your chracter pee, eat, sleep, sit, shower, and entertain himself constantly. Rushing home to piss is not fun. I think the clock was so jacked up to make you slog through a bunch of busy work before you could burn through the plot. But if navigating conversation branches is your thing, you’ll be in heaven.

Yoshi’s Touch and Go, I know I’m risking the wrath of Kitsune, but there’s not much to this game at all. Play for score, and that’s about it.

Goldeneye is cool to the extent that an FPS is possible on the DS, but it’s boring and simplistic. Also, the control scheme assumes you have a third hand available to you.

Retro Atari Classics is an insult to anyone who liked the original games. The games are ports that change the rules & playfield for the worse.

Also zoo tycoon is coming out soon and that = gold!

Look up any of the threads on best ordinary Gameboy Advance games. The top 3-4 GBA games annihilate anything out on the DS so far, IMO, though the new Castlevania and Advance Wars games look promising.

I play Zelda: Minish Cap, Final Fantasy 1 & 2, and Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones in my DS all the time and it basically just serves as an easier-to-hold, back-lit, better speakered version of the SP. :)

Ignore the unbeliever above.

Meteos owned me and some of the others here at work for the better part of a month. It’s the hardcore gamer’s casual game.

Yeah, I normally agree with Xemu, but Kirby and Meteos are superb games. They are worth buying a DS in order to play them. The 'dogs shipped today as did Advance Wars. They’re in stores tomorrow. The upcoming Castlevania game as well as Viewtiful Joe on DS look great. Mario Kart and Animal Crossing for DS will be worth it too because of online play.

I’d upgrade the PC before buying the Xbox 360 if you decide to skip the DS entirely. The money is better saved to get the 360 when some worthwhile and unique games appear on the console.


Ossu! Tatakae! Ouendan! is not only the best game on the DS but also one of the best games released on any platform this year. Plus it doesn’t get annihilated by the best GBA games. I figured I’d use this thread as an excuse to pimp my favorite new game.

If you’re not up to date on the DS scene in Japan (who isn’t, right?), Ouendan is a rhythm game about a male cheer squad that travels around town cheering people on to help them through everyday troubles like taking tests at school, playing dodgeball, upset stomachs, exhaustive workloads that prevent you from dating the hot guy at work, giant mice and robots stomping Tokyo to bits, trying to lose weight in ancient Egypt. Stuff like that.

Yeah, I know, male cheerleaders. You probably have this image of what the male cheer squad might look like. These are not those cheerleaders. These guys are like spec ops. I’m pretty sure that if they show up to cheer you on while you make pottery and you have the audacity to not do your best and never give up they break your neck and erase any evidence that you ever existed. They don’t show that part in the game, though.

Before each song you’ll see a comic book intro that sets the story up. It’s in Japanese but you can usually figure out what’s going on (it really doesn’t matter for the game, though). The game itself requires no knowledge of Japanese, just a pretty good idea of what order the numbers one through fifteen go in. Gameplay consists of three simple interactions with the touch screen. The most basic is a numbered circle that will appear on the screen with a larger circle surrounding it. The larger circle shrinks down and when it touches the inner circle you’re supposed to tap the screen there. Sometimes the numbered circle will be at the end of a tube and in that case you put the stylus down on the screen and trace along the tube. The third is a giant wheel that you have to spin like a maniac.

The first few songs are simple enough but before you know it the game is combining these three simple elements into insane patterns. The difficulty ramps up pretty quickly, but that’s good because it just sounds so cool when you get it right. See, every time you tap the screen it makes this sound that’s sort of a bass drum and cymbal crash at the same time. Which reminds me, the sound quality is really surprising considering this is a DS game. Not exactly CD quality but the songs sound great. They’re actual recordings with vocals and everything, not just MIDI. The songs are all licensed J-Rock and they’re a lot of fun.

OK, look, maybe I’m not going to make the cheerleader game sound cool on the Internet. I just don’t have that kind of word magic. I try calling my friends up to tell them about this awesome new cheerleader game I got from Japan and they hang up the phone. But when you bring the game over and let people try it they’re hooked. It’s really a brilliant game, you can learn the basics in a few minutes and they keep challenging you with more and more complex patterns, which might get frustrating if they weren’t so damn satisfying to pull off. Plus the comics are well drawn, the stories are cute and the cheer squad kicks ass. Super highly recommended if you’re looking for something different and don’t mind paying a little bit of import tax (play-asia and lik-sang probably sell it for about fifty dollars).

backs slowly away from Cathcart, facing him the whole time

Oh no, I’ve seen that title in action and it did indeed seem to rock.

Cathcart’s right according to the GAF. People there were calling it the best game on the DS. It’s supposed to be pretty darn great. I can vouch for Mike. he knows his games. :)


I am so all over the all-Japanese SWAT team male cheerleader ordinary-life-boosting super hyper rhythm game. Thanks, Mike :-) And thanks everyone in this thread – keep them recs coming!

I forgot about Viewtiful Joe DS… missed it on the consoles, looks like a goodie on the DS…


Don’t forget about the Mario & Luigi RPG DS game (and it’s excellent GBA predecessor).

The cheerleaders are maybe based on the band Kishidan, or maybe Kishidan is based on some other cultural phenomenon in Japan and the DS game echoes it. Anyway, here’s Kishidan:

As you can see, similar outfits and hand-waving motions. Ducktail pompadour haircuts.

As you can also see, male backup dancers in American flag tanktops and tiny ripped denim shorts.

The other dancers are for that performance only, but they always have the flag tanktop backup dancers and they’re always dressed like that. The band themselves have different outfits, but all in that long coat style.

As is the wont of Japanese pop songs, this song they’re doing has some lyrics in English. FYI, they are “Can you master baby? Master baby?” and “One night carnival, fun fun”.

I’m sure that everything about Ossu! Tatakae! Ouendan! makes perfect sense now that it’s in the proper context.

Because I love you, I make them dance for you.

Well? Can you?


/golf clap


I love “can you master, baby”! The first time I played that song it kicked my ass. I think I was stuck on it for an hour but instead of throwing the DS through a window when I lost I was just hammering the retry button because I liked playing it so much. I like how the game takes a break at that part so you can dance along.

Not that I did that.

Look shut up.

That song is one of their big hits, One Night Carnival. I love that song, and Swinging Nippon, and Kira Kira. And well, all their music videos. Here is a clip from Kira Kira.

I’m not some kind of j-pop freak, though. I think I would classify Kishidan as pretty much the only japanese band I actually go out of my way to listen to. Had a friend in japan who introduced me to their music.